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terça-feira, 3 de fevereiro de 2009

The Dreams of Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão

Agio Pereira

During the current parliamentary debate on the State Budget for Fiscal Year 2009, a Timorese political leader characterised Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão’s intervention to justify his own budget proposal as being a “dream”. Other people pertaining to that same leader’s political colour are using the same strategy.

And it is actually a dream.

In his poem “Mar Português – Possessio maris”, Fernando Pessoa ensures us that when “God wants, man dreams, and the deed is born”.

The IV Constitutional Government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, is once again submitting and defending its State Budget. This is the fourth budget proposal ever since Xanana Gusmão took over the helm of the Government on 8 August 2007. It is the annual budget for 2009. All the proposals put forward to the National Parliament by Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão have been subjected to thorough and deep analyses and debates that exhausted the time limits envisaged for that purpose in Chapter VII of the Parliament’s Rules of Procedure dealing with “Plan and State Budget”.

Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão is leading a Government whose experience is only a year and a half old. All Government members, including the Prime Minister himself, had no prior governing experience. The same applies to the 39 Members of Parliament from CNRT, PD, ASDT/PSD and UNDERTIM who form the majority alliance. Resolve, courage, honesty and humility are the attributes of this team of Xanana Gusmão ever since the latter took over the responsibility to lead the government.

Throughout this period of one and a half years, the Government led by Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão was confronted with national instability, with approximately one hundred thousand displaced people, fragile government institutions, a State Administration devoid of leadership, and defense and security forces whose credibility had been affected by the crisis. Above all, Xanana Gusmão took over a Nation that only recently had managed to conquer its freedom through unprecedented national unity, but that was already divided and lacked a common vision to move forward with the important process of consolidating national independence.
Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão thus entered the Government’s Palace to implement his motto “The Motherland Having Been Freed, Let us now Free the People”.

He brought with him an inspired message to reorient the Nation and to reunite all the Veterans of the liberation war, particularly those of Falintil – his men, the men he had led during the struggle for National Liberation. Through such inspiring message, Xanana Gusmão initiated the process of regaining the confidence of the people in State institutions, including the confidence of the people in the Government itself, a confidence that is an indispensable guarantee of the legitimacy of any democratic government in the world.

The motto “Having Freed the Motherland, Let Us Now Free the People” replaced the motto “To Resist is to Win” as well as the motto “The Struggle Continues in All Fronts”. Already in the early months of his rule this new message echoed in the minds of the Veterans, reminding them of the role they will have to play in this phase of post-conflict and to influence the entire long-term process of national development.

The Programme of the IV Constitutional Government presented to the National Parliament by Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão and endorsed with a vote of confidence, was recognised by several Veterans as a programme from the “jungle”, the kind of programme which, while they were in the bush”, particularly in those times when they were not engaged in fire against the enemy, they would get together to discuss for the future”.

The freedom fighters also used to dream with all the dignity of genuine liberators of our nation. And they still continue to dream: they dream of how it will still be possible, in their lifetime, to see a country where no citizen will cry for feeling a victim of independence, but will instead claim his or her rights because the country is ready to ensure dignified living conditions for all and the Government has helped them prepare themselves to give their contribution to the process of national development.

Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão is also a man who has always dreamt of independence and he managed to turn such dream into reality. At the time of independence, Xanana Gusmão dreamt of national stability and he eventually managed to stabilise the country; he dreamt of a dignified FALINTIL – Forças de Defesa de Timor-Leste and of a more united, more motivated and more capable police force, and he was successful in achieving this desideratum; he dreamt of a multiparty democratic State, without the hegemony of a political party, and he was successful in that; he dreamt of a Government capable of bringing together all social and political components, without ideological discrimination, and he was also successful in that; he dreamed of a government capable of making use of existing human resources and of potential human resources to be trained, and again he managed to turn such dream into reality; he dreamed of a government capable of listening to the Catholic Church hierarchy and of working in partnership with it, without prejudice to all other churches, and he was successful; he dreamed of war Veterans living in old age with dignity and hope, and he managed to accomplished that dream; he dreamed that the sacrifices of an entire people for their national liberation would not result in killing the Republic, and he was successful; he dreamed of the widowers and orphans of war living in dignity, and again he managed to materialise this desire.

Xanana’s dreams have allowed an unprecedented success in the attempt to solve the 11 February 2008 attack. In a democracy with fragile, divided and demoralised institutions, Xanana’s dreams succeeded in ensuring the survival of our young State. All the steps taken to uphold the State took place in accordance with appropriate legal frameworks.
One may say that everything, that all these victories, are but small steps because everything that is done with so much of sacrifice may end up being destroyed tomorrow if the State institutions so allow and if the leadership has no clear idea about its dreams for the future of our people.

But Xanana continues to dream. Step by step, steadily, his dreams are becoming true, because they are not only Xanana’s dreams: they are the dreams of a whole people. For this reason, in the long-term, such dreams will be consolidated.
The Timorese people rejoices for having a leader who dreams, a man whose dreams constitute the philosophical stone that is transforming a post-conflict State into a more developed State, with functioning democratic institutions, with an invigorated and sustainable economy.
It reminds me of the little-known Bernardo Soares, one of the heteronyms of Fernando Pessoa who, in his book “O Livro do Desassossego”, reiterates that “The Dreamer is the man of action” because “Only what we dream of is what we truly are, because everything else, having already been realised, belongs to the world and to everybody”.

The New Heroes

Xanana Gusmão dreams of new heroes. To him, new heroes means all the Timorese who have ideas on how to build a Democratic State that is healthy and plural, sovereign and developed. But it does not suffice to have ideas. Such heroes must also have the capacity to transform their ideas into reality, for the benefit of our people.

As he dreams, the government led by him materialises his programme. The government has already sent hundreds of Timorese to study abroad, to get trained, to learn whatever is useful and necessary from other peoples and countries in order to help build our country, a country built with the blood and sacrifice of thousands of combatants – men and women, youth and children, but which is still facing the pressing need of additional sacrifices from all the Timorese to make it viable, to make it a country that reflects the extremely rich history of our people.

Xanana: the prisoner of freedom

When Xanana Gusmão was captured on 22 November 1992, the enemy boasted of a heroic act. But the great disciple of Xanana Gusmão, guerrilla commander Nino Konis Santana, in an attempt to elevate the morale of his guerrillas, said: if they don’t kill him, then today is the beginning of the end of the occupation, the beginning of the total liberation of our beloved and a thousand times martyr Motherland.

And Konis Santana was right. A heart-and-soul freedom fighter, he knew that the heroic act by the Indonesian generals was but an ephemeral act.
From the mountains of his country to the Indonesian prison cells, in Cipinang and Salemba, Xanana experienced a life of a guerrilla and that of a prisoner, but he never ceased to lead with a vision of freedom and independence. He accepted to take extra-humane sacrifices as well as years as prisoner in Indonesia, during which he was incommunicado for six months. But Xanana never ceased to dream. Xanana transformed the days, the minutes and the seconds he spent in the dungeons into golden moments, not only to dream more and better, but also to enrich his dreams, dreams of a country where there would not be only one lake with water and vegetables surrounding it, but a whole country full of vegetables, a healthy people, happy and prosperous.
Two contradictions are hovering in the conscience of Xanana Gusmão. One of them relates to the fact that he breached the promise made to his guerrillas that, after the liberation, he would not hold any position; the other is the conscience of the duty, the duty to serve, the duty not to let go what his guerrilla men achieved, for he saw many of them being killed and giving their lives so as to make their dream come true, a dream that is the dream fo an entire people.
His desire to be a mere spectator of a new stage in the struggle for the sovereignty of his people, a stage of building a democratic State based on the rule of law, has not materialised because the national political reality dictates that Xanana must continue to row in this cyclopean boat that carries the hopes of the Timorese children so that they may one day be able to have more adequate living conditions, a happier life than that of their ancestors, a life proper of a modern people and country, in a globalised world.

His promise not to hold a political position was transformed by contemporary reality and converted into “Having Freed the Motherland, Let Us Free the People”.
Xanana continues to be a prisoner, but today he is a prisoner of freedom. The new prison cells are not made of walls and metal, but of his own conscience. The dream is, after all, a train that travels in a political process of the national liberation itself!
This train has neither stations nor does it stop to enable Xanana to step down.

We can, we know how and we must reform

His dreams are the force behind this process; dreams reflected on his life of a guerrilla freedom fighter and in everything he writes; in the manner in which he has been leading this people and country, in the manner in which he leads this Government and contributes towards all institutions of the State towards the future. For this budget, Xanana dreams of consolidating a political administration that is free from party political interference; he dreams of establishing processes and mechanisms to fight corruption, improve remuneration and recognise the merit and the management of the performance of civil servants and reform the budgetary and financial system of the State.

Asked about the reason why he needs another vice prime minister, Xanana answered in all honesty: because the administrative machine has to be corrected and because management, accountancy and finance constitute a cross-cutting problem to all State institutions; because bureaucracy is heavy and must be alleviated in order to accelerate the process of reform of State management. For Xanana Gusmão, the need persists to see in what manner the ministerial instructions can improve the execution of the Government’s action. Also, because the administrative machine continues to be the driving force of the economy, we can, we know, and we must undertake reforms.

Maybe António Gedeão would have done a good job if he said the following to the Timorese leader who minimises the dreams of Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão:

Don’t you know and even dream
that dreams command life,
that whenever a man dreams
the world jumps and moves forward
as a colourful ball
in the hands of a child


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